One of those bands with a long history: Axemaster was formed in 1985, rocking the scene with classic releases like ”Slave to the Blade”, ”Blessing in the Skies”, ”The Vision” or ”Death Before Dishonor”. After the only remaining original member Joe Sims their musical direction and changed the name to The Awakening for one CD, it took until 2010 that Sims permanently re-launched Axemaster. And it took until March of this year to release their new album ”Overture to Madness” via Pure Steel records, offering a combination of the dark riffs and feel of doom metal and the energy and aggression of non-speed thrash metal. Guitarist and mastermind Joe Sims tells us a bit more:
Could you provide us with an update on what Axemaster is doing currently, Joe?
We just did a cool show with 3 other Pure Steel bands that went totally kick ass. Now we are getting ready for future shows and adding more material to our setlist. We are also writing new stuff that we will consider using on our next album and plan to do a demo recording of 4 of them before long, so we´re preparing for that. Other than those things, we´re working our asses off promoting our new album ”Overture to Madness” and looking for as many cool opportunities for Axemaster as we can find.
Who are some of your favorite bands?
My favorite band for a long time has been Chastain. I listen to their stuff all the time!!! Other bands I´m into, the most would be Iron Maiden and Dio era Black Sabbath/Heaven and Hell. But there are a TON of other bands that have stuff that I´m really into, like Slayer, old Savatage, Testament, early Metallica, Helstar, and even some old Kiss.
Who writes the lyrics for Axemaster?
Our singer Geoff McGraw writes all the lyrics now, he wrote all the words for ”Overture to Madness” and the couple new songs we´ve written since the album came out. Back when Axemaster was active in the late 80´s/early 90´s, I wrote the words for a little over half the tunes; but Geoff is an EXCELLENT writer and his lyrical phrasing is really creative, so I´m more than happy to just concentrate on writing music and let him deal with all the words. I make a few suggestions here and there and he´s very cool about giving my ideas due consideration, but the final decision about everything to do with lyrics is his.
Any Axemaster side projects that want us to know about?
No side projects. Our drummer Denny Archer and our bass player Jim Curtis both also play in tribute bands, but the only original thing any of us are doing is Axemaster. Man, with all the work I do with/for this band, there would have to be 48 hours in a day or me to never have to sleep to have time to be able to do any side projects!!!!!!
What has been the reaction so far for the new Axemaster album – from the fans and press?
The fans´ reaction has been GREAT. I couldn´t ask for the album to be received any better! Honestly, I haven´t heard one negative thing about it from a fan of our style. Of course people who are mainly into stuff that´s very different than what we do (like maybe extreme or nu-metal) aren´t gonna dig this as much. But actually, one very cool thing that I think really says something about the album is that I´ve heard some great comments about it from a number of people who aren´t really metal fans at all. It´s a major plus when a band can attract fans from outside their genre, that´s how you can really take the next step toward greater success. The press has been mainly good. I say it that way, because especially now that any amatuer writer can post reviews on online blogs, there are always haters out there who would slam on ANYTHING even if what they say doesn´t make much sense, especially when the band they´re talking about isn´t a style they´re personally into.
I´ve seen it for pretty much every release out there, including ours. But the reviews I´ve seen from credible zines have been positive, consistently been giving the album anywhere from a 7 to a 10 out of 10.
What lies in the the future for Axemaster?
For the immediate future, what I can say FOR SURE is that we will be playing as many cool shows as possible, writing new stuff for the next album (because there will DEFINITELY be more new Axemaster albums), and promoting the hell out of the band and ”Overture”. We´re also working on trying to set up some cool things for the future like doing shows in Europe, and there´s also some kick ass stuff with Pure Steel that´s possibly in the works, but nothing´s definite enough for me to get into any of it yet. A lot´s been happening quick since ”Overture” came out, so check our website (www.axemasterofficial.com) and Facebook page
(www.facebook.com/axemasterofficial) for updates. Any fan of the band will want to know about this stuff if it ends up happening!
Anything strange happening at concerts?
I think the strangest and funniest thing that ever happened at an Axemaster show was back in 1986 or 87. We were asked on the same day to open for a glam/hair metal band and said, what the hell, it was a really nice club and we had rehearsal that night anyway, so we´d might as well do the club a favor and do the show. It didn´t take long for us to get very annoyed at the headline band. They had an attitude like they thought they were bad-ass rock stars, like they were better than everyone else and they weren´t even signed, and we were! We were supposed to get a sound check and they made sure we didn´t even get a level check. Hell, the soundman didn´t even turn on the mic for my guitar until the 2nd song. They had their girlfriends yelling shit at us between songs in our set, my lady just about started a fist fight with one of the girls right in front of the stage while we were playing! You get the idea of how things were. Anyway, I found out later that night after I got home that our drummer had told a bunch of his buddies what assholes that band was, so a few of them snuck into the dressing room and pissed all over the band´s clothes, on their leather jackets, even in a few of their shoes!!!! When I heard about it I laughed so fucking hard I almost cried!!!!
John Wisnewski, transl. K.Weber, photo: Band